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Macon County officials confirm the meningitis epidemic; 1 death confirmed



The Macon County Public Health Department (MCPH) has confirmed an outbreak of meningitis.

Two deaths occurred in the last three weeks; one of the confirmed cases was caused by Neisseria meningitidis. A second death suspected of being linked to Neisseria meningitidis is currently the subject of an investigation.

News 13 spoke to the boyfriend of one of the victims.

"I loved him very deeply," said Greg Bailey, referring to his girlfriend Veronica Jones Kemp.

Bailey said that he knew Kemp was sick but that he had no idea of ​​the severity of his illness.

"We just thought we had the flu," Bailey said.

Symptoms of Neisseria meningitidis may include: sudden onset of fever, severe headache, rash, stiff neck, stomach pain, nausea or vomiting.

As things progress, Bailey takes Kemp to the hospital. He said that he was shocked by what the doctor had told him.

"She said:" I'll let you see [Kemp]but we can not do anything more for her, "said Bailey.

Kemp died on February 11th.

"I begged the lord to let her live," Bailey said, trying to hold back tears.

Meningococcal disease is a disease caused by a kind of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. These bacteria can sometimes cause an infection of the blood, meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and other serious diseases.

"It's something that can be passed from person to person through saliva," said Carmine Rocco, acting director of Macon County Health.

Rocco said that if you meet someone with the symptoms, you should avoid sharing cooking utensils, foods, cigarettes and other smoking devices, kissing and practicing mouth resuscitation. with unprotected mouth. People do not contract this disease by casual contact or by the breathable air of a person with meningococcal disease.

Currently, and on the advice of state health officials and local authorities, preventative antibiotics are being administered to people who are known to have been in close contact with persons infected with the bacteria. Neisseria meningitidis.

As a prevention effort, children must be vaccinated against meningococcus at 11, 12 and 17 years of age. Adults and children should also wash their hands or use an alcohol-free water-based hand cleaner after touching their face. People should avoid sharing cooking utensils, glasses or anything else that could contribute to the spread of liquids in the nose and throat.

The Macon County Public Health Department will continue to work with the North Carolina Public Health Division to help contain the outbreak. The group will work with local health care providers, first responders, staff of funeral homes and other community groups.

If you experience any symptoms, please go directly to the emergency room. If you have questions or think you have been in contact with an infected person, please contact the health department at 828-349-2517.


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